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This article is about the alcoholic beverage. For the non-alcoholic beverage, see Apple cider. For Linux software, see TransGaming Technologies. For Android compatibility layer, see Columbia Cider.
A glass of cider

Cider (/ˈsdər/ SY-dər) or Hard Cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the juice of apples. Cider alcohol content varies from 1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more in traditional English ciders, and 3.5% to 12% in continental ciders.[1] In UK law, it must contain at least 35% apple juice (fresh or from concentrate),[2] although CAMRA says that "real cider" must be at least 90% fresh apple juice.[3] In the US, there is a 50% minimum.[4] In France, cider must be made solely from apples.[5] In 2014, a study by The Daily Telegraph found that a pint of mass-market cider (Bulmers) contained five teaspoons (20.5 g) of sugar, nearly as much as the WHO recommends as an adult's daily allowance of added sugar, and 5–10 times the amount of sugar in lager or ale.[6]

In the US and some parts of Canada, the alcoholic beverage discussed in this article is commonly known as "hard cider", while "cider" usually refers to a non-alcoholic unfiltered apple juice known as apple cider with a distinct sweet-tart taste. The addition of sugar or extra fruit before a second fermentation increases the alcoholic content of the resulting beverage. An alcoholic apple beverage with higher alcohol content (>10%) is an "apple wine".[7][8]

The juice of any variety of apple can be used in cider making, but particular cultivars grown for cider making are known as cider apples.[9] Cider is popular in the United Kingdom, especially in the West Midlands, South West England and East Anglia, and is available in most corners of the country. The UK has the highest per capita consumption, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the world,[10] including H. P. Bulmer, the largest.[11] As of 2006, the UK produces 600 million litres per year (130 million imperial gallons).[12]

The beverage is also popular and native to other European countries such as Ireland, Northern France (in particular Brittany and Normandy) and Northern Spain and the Basque Country. Central Europe also has it own particular types of cider. Germans in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse (Frankfurt am Main) drink it, as does the country that is Europe's largest producer of apples, Poland.[citation needed] Jabłecznik is just recently[when?] gaining in popularity, and high-quality Polish apple concentrate is commonly used for English, Swedish, and Irish cider manufacturing.[citation needed]

Argentina is also a cider-producing and -drinking country, especially the provinces of Río Negro and Mendoza. Australia also produces cider, particularly on the island of Tasmania, which has a strong apple-growing tradition.[citation needed]

A similar product made from fermented pear juice is called perry, or sometimes pear cider, although the use of this term is frowned on by some.[13] Some organisations (such as CAMRA) argue that the term "pear cider" damages both cider and perry.[3]

Appearance and types[edit]

American hard cider in a bottle

The flavour of cider varies. Ciders can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and their colour ranges from almost clear to amber to brown. The variations in clarity and colour are mostly due to filtering between pressing and fermentation. Some apple varieties will produce a clear cider without any need for filtration. Both sparkling and still ciders are made; the sparkling variety is the more common.

Modern, mass-produced ciders closely resemble sparkling wine in appearance. More traditional brands tend to be darker and cloudier. They are often stronger than the mass-produced varieties and taste more strongly of apples. Almost colourless, White Cider has the same apple juice content as conventional cider but is harder to create because the cider maker has to blend various apples to create a clearer liquid. White Ciders tend to be sweeter and more refreshing. They are typically 7-8% abv in strength. Black Cider, by contrast, describes dry amber premium cider which has an abv of 7-8%. The descriptor Black usually comes after the brand name such as Union Black and Barnstormer Black.


Scratting and pressing[edit]

Main articles: Cider mill and Cider press

Apples grown for consumption are suitable for cider making, though some regional cider-makers prefer to use a mix of eating and cider apples (as in Kent, England), or exclusively cider apples (as in the West Country, England). There are many hundreds of varieties of cultivars developed specifically for cider making.

Few traditional horse-drawn circular cider presses are still in use, but many may still be seen used as garden ornaments, flower planters, or architectural features

Once the apples are gathered from trees in orchards they are scratted (ground down) into what is called pomace or pommage. Historically this was done using pressing stones with circular troughs, or by a cider mill. Cider mills were traditionally driven by the hand, water-mill, or horse-power. In modern times they are likely to be powered by electricity. The pulp is then transferred to the cider press and built up in layers known as cheeses into a block.

Traditionally the method for squeezing the juice from the apples involves placing sweet straw or hair cloths between the layers of pomace. This will alternate with slatted ash-wood racks, until there is a pile of ten or twelve layers. It is important to minimize the time that the pomace is exposed to air in order to keep oxidation to a minimum.

The set is then subjected to increasing degrees of pressure, until all the 'must' or juice is squeezed from the pomace. This juice, after being strained in a coarse hair-sieve, is then put into either open vats or closed casks. The pressed pulp is given to farm animals as winter feed, composted, discarded or used to make liqueurs.[14]


Main article: Fermentation (food)

Fermentation is carried out at a temperature of 4–16 °C (40–60 °F). This is low for most kinds of fermentation, but is beneficial for cider as it leads to slower fermentation with less loss of delicate aromas.

Shortly before the fermentation consumes all the sugar, the liquor is "racked" (siphoned) into new vats. This leaves dead yeast cells and other undesirable material at the bottom of the old vat. At this point it becomes important to exclude airborne acetic bacteria, so vats are filled completely to exclude air. The fermenting of the remaining available sugar generates a small amount of carbon dioxide that forms a protective layer, reducing air contact. This final fermentation creates a small amount of carbonation. Extra sugar may be added specifically for this purpose. Racking is sometimes repeated if the liquor remains too cloudy.

Apple-based juice may also be combined with fruit to make a fine cider; fruit purées or flavourings can be used, such as grape, cherry, raspberry and cranberry.

The cider is ready to drink after a three-month fermentation period, though more often it is matured in the vats for up to three years.[15]

Blending and bottling[edit]

Layers of pomace are shown wrapped in canvas.

For larger-scale cider production, ciders from vats produced from different varieties of apple may be blended to accord with market taste. If the cider is to be bottled, usually some extra sugar is added for sparkle. Higher quality ciders can be made using the champagne method, but this is expensive in time and money and requires special corks, bottles, and other equipment. Some home brewers use beer bottles, which work perfectly well, and are inexpensive. This allows the cider to become naturally carbonated.


The western British tradition of wassailing the apple trees and making an offering of cider and bread in Autumn to protect the fertility of the orchard appears to be a relatively ancient tradition, superficially dating back to the pre-Christian Early Medieval period.[citation needed] The autumn tradition of 'bobbing' for apples is due to the abundance of fruit at this time.[citation needed] A modern cider festival is an organized event that promotes cider and (usually) perry. A variety of ciders and perries will be available for tasting and buying. Such festivals may be organized by pubs, cider producers, or cider-promoting private organizations.[citation needed]

Uses and Variations[edit]

Calvados and applejack are distilled from cider. Calvados is made throughout Normandy, France, not just in the Calvados département. It is made from cider by double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28–30% alcohol. After the second pass, the concentration of alcohol is about 40%.

Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage made in North America by concentrating cider, either by the traditional method of freeze distillation, or by true evaporative distillation. In traditional freeze distillation, a barrel of cider is left outside during the winter. When the temperature is low enough, the water in the cider starts to freeze. If the ice is removed, the (now more concentrated) alcoholic solution is left behind in the barrel. If the process is repeated often enough, and the temperature is low enough, the alcohol concentration is raised to 30–40% alcohol by volume. In freeze distillation, methanol and fusel oil, which are natural fermentation byproducts, may reach harmful concentrations.[citation needed] These toxins can be separated when regular heat distillation is performed. Home production of applejack is illegal in most countries, though occasionally still done clandestinely in remote areas.

A few producers in Quebec and England, inspired by ice wine, have developed ice cider (French: cidre de glace). For this product, the apples are frozen either before or after being harvested. Its alcohol concentration is 9–13% ABV.

A popular apéritif in Normandy is pommeau, a drink produced by blending unfermented apple juice and apple brandy in the barrel (the high alcoholic content of the spirit stops the fermentation process of the cider and the blend takes on the character of the aged barrel).

Cocktails may include cider. Besides kir and snakebite, an example is Black Velvet in a version of which cider may replace champagne.

Cider may also be used to make vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is noted for its high acidity and flavour.

Related drinks[edit]

Other fruits can be used to make cider-like drinks. The most popular is perry, known in France as poiré, produced mostly in Lower Normandy, and is made from fermented pear juice. A branded sweet perry known as Babycham, marketed principally as a women's drink and sold in miniature Champagne-style bottles, was once popular but has become unfashionable. Another related drink is cyser – cider fermented with honey.

Although not widely made in modern times, various other pome fruits can produce palatable drinks. Apicius, in Book II of De re coquinaria, includes a recipe calling for quince cider.

National Varieties[edit]


Before the development of rapid long distance transportation, regions of cider consumption generally coincided with regions of cider production: that is, areas with apple orchards and the knowledge of how to turn very bitter apples into alcohol. For example, R. A. Fletcher notes that in the Liber Sancti Jacobi, cider was said to be more common than wine in 12th-century Galicia and certainly the idea of it was present in England the Conquest of 1066, using crab apples: the word "Wassail" is derived from a Saxon phrase, wæs hæl": it is what would have been said by Saxons as a toast at Yuletide. Southern Italy, by contrast, though indeed possessing apples, had no tradition for cider apples at all and like its other neighbours on the Mediterranean Sea preserved the Roman tradition of apples as an ingredient for desserts, as evidenced by the frescoes at Herculaneum and Pompeii, descriptions by Classical writers and playwrights, and Apicius, whose famous cookbook does not contain a single recipe for fermenting apples but rather includes them as part of main courses, especially accompanying pork.


In Austria cider is made in the south west of Lower Austria, the so-called "Mostviertel" and in Upper Austria as well as in parts of Styria. Almost every farmer there has some apple or pear trees. Many of the farmers also have a kind of inn called "Mostheuriger". There they serve cider and also something to eat. Cider is typically called "Most".[citation needed]


Scottish & Newcastle own Belgium cider maker Stassen SA, who in addition to their own local brands such as Strassen X Cider also produce Strongbow Jacques, a 5.5% ABV cider with cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours. Zonhoven based Konings NV specialises in private label ciders for European retailers and offers a wide variety of flavours and packaging options to the beverage industry. Stella Artois Cidre is produced in Zonhoven and has been marketed since 2011.[16]


Despite a strong apple tradition, Denmark has little cider production. Six places that produce cider in Denmark are Pomona (since 2003), Fejø Cider (since 2003), Dancider (since 2004), Ørbæk Bryggeri (since 2006), Ciderprojektet (since 2008) and Svaneke Bryghus (since 2009). All are inspired mainly by English and French cider styles. The assortment of imported ciders has grown significantly since 2000, prior to that only ciders from Sweden, primarily non-alcoholic, were generally available. The leading cider on the Danish market is made by CULT A/S.[17] In 2008, Carlsberg launched an alcoholic cider in Denmark called Somersby Cider which has an alcohol content of 4.7%, and a sweet taste.[18][19]


The best-known brands labelled as cider are Golden Cap, Fizz and Upcider. They typically contain 4.5-4.7%vol of alcohol. Virtually all Finnish "cider" is produced from fermented apple (or pear) juice concentrate mixed with water and is not Cider as per the traditional description of the drink. It typically comes in a variety of flavours ranging from forest berry to rhubarb and vanilla.


France was one of the countries that inherited both a knowledge of apple cultivation from the Celtic Gauls and the later Romans, who ruled the country for approximately 500 years: both had knowledge of grafting and keeping apples. The earliest mentions of cider in this country go back to the Greek geographer Strabo: he speaks of the profusion of apple trees in Gaul and describes a cider-like drink.[20] In the 9th century, Charlemagne, in the Capitulars, ordered skilled brewers (the Sicetores) to always be present on his estates to make him ale, "pommé" (pomacium), perry and all the liquors liable to be used as drinks, and also ordered an expansion of planting apple trees in what is now Northern France.[21]

Artisanal Cider from Brittany

French cidre (French pronunciation: ​[sidʁ]) is an alcoholic drink produced predominantly in Normandy and Brittany. It varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. 'Demi-Sec' is 3–5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 4.5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché). Many ciders are sold in corked bottles, but some screw-top bottles exist. In crêperies (crêpe restaurants) in Brittany, cider is generally served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses. A kir Breton (or kir normand) is a cocktail apéritif made with cider and cassis, rather than white wine and cassis for the traditional kir. The Domfrontais, in the Orne (Basse-Normandie), is famous for its pear cider (poiré). The calvados du Domfrontais is made of cider and poiré.

Some cider is also made in south western France, in the French part of the Basque Country. It is a traditional drink there and is making a recovery. Ciders produced here are generally of the style seen in the Spanish part of the Basque Country.

Calvados, from Normandy, and Lambig from Brittany are a spirits made of cider through a process called double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28%–30% alcohol. In a second pass, the amount of alcohol is augmented to about 40%.


Main article: Apfelwein

German cider, usually called Apfelwein (apple wine), and regionally known as Ebbelwoi, Apfelmost (apple must), Viez (from Latin vice, the second or substitute wine), or Saurer Most (sour must), has an alcohol content of 5.5%–7% and a tart, sour taste.

German cider is mainly produced and consumed in Hessen, particularly in the Frankfurt, Wetterau and Odenwald areas, in Moselfranken, Merzig (Saarland) and the Trier area, as well as the lower Saar area and the region bordering on Luxembourg and in the area along the Neckar River in Swabia. In these regions, several large producers, as well as numerous small, private producers, often use traditional recipes. An official Viez route or cider route connects Saarburg with the border to Luxembourg.


Magners Cider.

Cider is a popular drink in Ireland; for a long time cider production was officially encouraged and supported by a preferential tax treatment.[citation needed] A single cider, Bulmers, dominates sales in Ireland: Owned by C&C and produced in Clonmel, County Tipperary, this Bulmers has a connected history to the British Bulmers cider brand up until 1949.[22] Outside the Republic of Ireland, C&C brand their cider as Magners. It is very popular in Ireland to drink cider over ice and encouraged in their advertising. Cidona, essentially a non-alcoholic version of Bulmers, is a popular soft drink in Ireland, and used to be a C&C-owned brand.


Cider was once widely produced in Northern Italy's apple growing regions, with a marked decline during fascist rule, due to the introduction of a law banning the industrial production of alcoholic beverages derived from fruits of less than 7% ABV, which was aimed at protecting wine producers.[23] Present laws and regulations are favourable to cider makers, but production has only survived in a few alpine locations, mostly in the regions of Trentino, and in Piedmont, where it is known as vin ëd pom (apple wine) or pomada, because it traditionally was left to ferment in a vat along with grape pomace, giving it a distinctive reddish colour.[24]


In Luxembourg, viez (pronounced feetz) is rather like English scrumpy. It is cloudy and varies from non-alcoholic to very alcoholic.[citation needed]


In The Netherlands cider is not as commonly available as in its surrounding countries. In 2007 Heineken started testing a cider-based drink branded Jillz in a number of bars throughout the country. The beverage, an alcopop made by blending sparkling water, fruit flavoring, malt and cider, is marketed towards female drinkers as an alternative to beer. At the same time, Heineken also introduced Strongbow Gold as a secondary brand to provide the choice of a real cider, which was targeted to a male audience. Both beverages contain 5% alcohol by volume, which is similar to a typical draught beer in the Netherlands. Other brands are available in supermarkets, most noticeably Magners and Savanna Dry,[25] and in liquor stores generally a broader range may be obtained.


In Norway, cider (sider) is a naturally fermented apple juice. Pear juice is sometimes mixed with the apple to get a better fermenting process started. The main area for cider production is in the proclaimed "fruit garden" or "apple orchard" of Norway, the Hardanger region.[citation needed]

Following lengthy navigation through the directives of Norway's complex alcohol laws, three brands of sparkling cider with an abv of approximately 10% are available to the Norwegian public through distribution by the monopoly outlet Vinmonopolet, Hardanger Sider Sprudlande from Hardanger, Krunesider from Bergen sourcing apples from Hardanger, and Liersider from Lier.[26][27] In line with the law of 1975 prohibiting all advertising of alcoholic beverages of abv greater than 2.5%,[28] the products receive little exposure despite some favourable press reaction.[27][29]

Ciders of low alcohol levels are widely available, mostly brands imported from Sweden, although carbonated soft drinks with no alcoholic content may also be marketed as "cider".[29]


As in Italy, cider was once very popular in Northern Portugal [30] where its production was larger than wine production until the 11th century,[30] but nowadays its popularity has decreased and it is only consumed in the coasts of Minho, Âncora e Lima, where it is used as a refreshment for thirst. In some festivities it is still used rather than wine.


Poland is the largest producer of apples in Europe.[31] Cider is known in Poland as Cydr or Jabłecznik. The category is however just gaining popularity among consumers. Areas strong in Cider production are focused around the center of the country in the Masovian and Łódź voivoideships. [32] Large quantities of Polish apple concentrate are exported to UK, Scandinavia and Ireland for cider production.

Brands important to note are: Cydr 7 Sadów, Joker Forest Fruit Cider, App Cider, Cider Inn, Cydr Warka,Cydr Lubelski. [33]

Unfortunately, a huge part of Polish cider production is of low quality - many producers use concentrated apple juice instead of freshly pressed juice, which negatively affects the taste. What is more, as Polish consumers are used to sweet beverages, it is quite uncommon to find any variety of Polish dry cider. It may be expected, however, that these tendencies will change due to increasing popularity among consumers.

Most of these brands can be found in major supermarket chains, like Tesco, Alma, Auchan and Intermarche.


Asturian cider being poured ("escanciado") in the traditional manner.
Asturian cider.

The making and drinking of cider is traditional in several areas of northern Spain, mainly Galicia, the Principality of Asturias and the Basque Country.

The largest producer of cider in Spain is the Atlantic region of Asturias, where cider is considered not only a beverage but an intrinsic part of its culture and folklore. Asturias amounts more than 80% of the whole production of Spain. The consumption of cider in Asturias is of 54 litres per person/year, probably the highest in any European region. One of the most popular ciders in Spain is called "El Gaitero" (the bagpipe player) which can be found everywhere in Spain and which is produced in this region. However, it must not be confused with the traditional Asturian cider as it is a sparkling cider more in the way of French ciders. It is a factory produced cider, sweet and very foamy, much like lambrusco, different from the more artisan and traditional cider productions. Recently, new apple tree plantations have been started in grounds belonging to the old coal mines, once important in Asturias.

The first testimony about cider in Asturies was made by Greek geographer Strabo in 60 BC.

The traditional Asturian sidra is a still cider of 4–8% strength, although there are other varieties. Traditionally, it is served in sidrerías and chigres, pubs specializing in cider where it is also possible to have other drinks as well as traditional food. One of the most outstanding characteristics is that it is poured in very small quantities from a height into a wide glass, with the arm holding the bottle extended upwards and the one holding the glass extended downwards. This technique is called escanciar un culín (also echar un culín) and is done to get air bubbles into the drink (espalmar), thus giving it a sparkling taste like Champagne that lasts a very short time. Cider is also poured from barrels in the traditional Espichas.

Basque people drinking cider in a sagardotegi (cider house).

Cider has also been popular in the Basque Country for centuries.[citation needed] Whilst Txakoli and Rioja wines became more popular in Biscay, Álava and Navarre during the 19th century, there is still a strong Basque cider culture in Gipuzkoa. From the 1980s, government and gastronomic associations have worked to revive this culture in all Basque regions. Known as sagardoa (IPA: /s̺a'gaɾdoa/), it is drunk either bottled or in a cider house (called a sagardotegi), where it is poured from barrels. Most of "sagardotegis" are in the north of Gipuzkoa (Astigarraga, Hernani, Urnieta and Usurbil), but they can be found everywhere in Gipuzkoa, the north-west of Navarre and the Northern Basque Country.

Cider tasting events are popular in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, where stalls are set up on the street selling the drink from several producers at cheap prices and served until stock runs out.


A glass of Rekorderlig wild berries cider.

Due to Swedish law, stores in Sweden cannot sell cider with less than 15 percentage juice by volume under the name Cider.[34] "Cider" with none or less than 15% juice is instead usually sold as "Apple/Pear beverage of cider character" (Swedish: "Äpple-/Pärondryck med Ciderkaraktär"). Brands of cider in Sweden include Rekorderlig, Kivik, Herrljunga Cider and Kopparberg cider.

United Kingdom[edit]


Cider has been a staple of the British hearth for nearly a thousand years, if not more. In 55 BC, the Romans upon their first travels to what they called Britannia found the native population already living there making a type of cider in what is present day Kent from the apples they already had.[35][35]

Until 2002, it was thought that cider made no appearance in England before 1066, or may have died out with the Celtic age and the tale given by Tacitus of cider just a memory until the Normans. In the autumn of that year William the Conqueror invaded England and brought with him a huge horde of noblemen and their soldier/serfs from Northern France; largely in the decades after 1066 they became the overlords of the conquered Saxon/Viking mix that they enslaved and demanded their underlings tend to the imported crops they had known from across the sea. Etymology leaves the world many clues as to what came next, even in terms of cidermaking. The present day English word for Malus domesticus is the Germanic rooted apple, taken from Old English æppel, not the Modern French pomme nor the older Norman pume, both taken from the Latin word for fruit, pomus. The common people didn't speak the tongue of their masters and would have used the words they knew beforehand, including for the crops they were forced to tend: "Adventures In English" on YouTube

Since the early Roman era, dessert and cider apples had been spreading out of the Mediterranean and naturally would have eventually been brought to Gaul, a province of the Roman Empire after the defeat of Vercingetorix in 46 BC by Caesar, and Franconia, parts of which would have formed Magna Germania. Much later the northern part of Gaul, heavily populated by a mix of Gauls, Romans, and other Celts, became Normandy and the domain of the lords that grew apples on their fiefdoms. The Normans were most certainly a vector for the arrival of continental apples to England-the word ”cider” derives etymologically from the 12th century French word cidre[36]- but older accounts tell a different story. Saxon chronicles before their conquest of British Celts mention cider-like drinks and also mention the production of a drink called æppelwīn, an ancient cognate of the Modern German ’apfelwein’’, both literally meaning a wine or alcohol made from apples. Though it is unknown if there is any relation between the ancient drink and the modern German product at least one account indicates the drink was a luxury item that only the wealthy could afford. There is also evidence from the mid-late Saxon period of the growth of orchards before, during, and after Christianisation of this group and their ceremonial use, most famously the custom of Wassail at Yuletide, and it is known that monks grew apples in their gardens.[37] There is also more recent evidence that indicates that the Romans were growing apples and pears in their stay in Britain, and one of the Vindolanda tablets indicates that the largely Asturian derived guardsmen near Hadrian's Wall, men with an apple and cider culture predating their own conquest by Rome, were seeking the best apples that could be found locally.[38]

The Vikings had a well known beer based drinking culture, but may have been a witness to cider. The Eddaic poem Alvíssmál leaves this passage:

Þórr kvað:
Segðu mér þat Alvíss, - öll of rök fira
vörumk, dvergr, at vitir,
hvé þat öl heitir, er drekka alda synir,
heimi hverjum í?"

Alvíss kvað:
Öl heitir með mönnum, en með ásum bjórr,
kalla veig vanir,
hreinalög jötnar, en í helju mjöð,
kalla sumbl Suttungs synir.

Translation to Modern English:

Thórr said:
Tell me, Alvís - for all wights' fate
I deem that, dwarf, thou knowest -
how the ale is hight, which is brewed by men,
in all the worlds so wide?

Alvíss said:
'Tis hight öl (ale) among men; among Aesir bjórr (cider);
the Vanir call it veig (strong drink),
hreinalög (clear-brew), the giants; mjöð (mead), the Hel-Wights;
the sons of Suttung call it sumbel (ale-gathering).[39]

The poem is contemporaneous with the Norman Conquest, and the language, Old Norse, was also spoken in pockets of England at the time. Literary analysis suggests the translation of the Scandinavian term for björr does not mean beer-it is a false friend. The poem in its entirety tells the tale of a dwarf that is trying to carry off mighty Thor's daughter to marry her and Thor is cleverly trying to stall him by flattery, plying him with drink, in the hopes he will turn to stone at sunrise. The author uses a large amount of poetic license and metaphor to describe alcoholic beverages, though the poem is quite clear that öl and björr are different drinks and uses in other texts for the first word seem to describe a fermented alcohol made with barley ( a crop particularly important to Vikings) and the other much sweeter and a mystical drink worthy of the gods. In fact, a sumbel describes a special convivial occasion Vikings took to drink together.[40]

The Saxons likewise had many words for strong drink, including the word beór, which indeed is a cognate of the Scandinavian word and also appears several times in one of the oldest and most famous works in the English language, ’’Beowulf’’. Many of the Saxon accounts use words for strong drink interchangeably, especially in poetry, and the texts overall show that wine and mead are two of the five favoured alcohols of Saxons, but are unmistakable for anything else: the word for mead is medu and wine, which would have been imported from the Continent as a luxury, is a cognate with the Modern German, wīn. It is thought that a form of grain based alcohol was present in both the Viking and Saxon populations as homebrew, but at least one surviving text makes clear the distinction between this and what wound up on the table, and it strongly indicates cider: Ælfric, abbot of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, who lived from around AD 955 to AD 1010, wrote of John the Baptist in one of his Homilies that,

Ne dranc he naðor ne win, ne beór, ne ealu, ne nan ðæra wætan ðe menn of druncniað.

The translation to Modern English is:

...Nor drank he neither wine nor beór, nor ale, nor any other drink that makes men drunk.

Ælfric was a native speaker of Old English writing almost a hundred years before the Conquest; he was also a noted grammarian of the age who spent much time teaching his acolytes how to read Latin. He was using Latin as his source text to create dialectic on the lives of the saints and translated accordingly; one of the most important jobs of a monk in this period was to have a mastery of Latin so as to faithfully copy and read the Gospels and many secular texts that would have otherwise been lost when the Western Empire fell apart. In his Homilies he communicates that each drink is distinct from the other, notably ealu and beór, very different to modern speech where ale and beer are synonyms with a similar method of production and agreeing with the Viking texts.

Neighbouring Ireland and Scotland spoke (and still speak to a degree) Celtic languages closely related to each other but not to English, though both had suffered through intermittent raids and invasions by Vikings, thus both imbibing a few cultural features, like language, over two centuries. There is a story from both cultures that relates a great conflict over a type of alcohol, and the Irish account used the term bheóir Lochlannach (Viking björr, Lochlann being the Irish word for Viking), but don't use their native terms for ale and beer, lionn and cuirm, concurring with the Saxon texts and distinctions in Ælfric's writing that beór was a sweeter drink that was very likely an early cider in Britain. One scholar, Professor Christine Fell, posits that the drink served was an apple based alcohol using honey as a sweetener and extra fermentation agent and served in small cups that are often found in Saxon burials with the dead.[41] A journalist and beer scholar, Martyn Comell, notes that with the rise of the word cider in the 12th century, the use of beór as a word disappears entirely from use as well.[42] No form of the word was ever in use again before the 1500s, where beer was renamed following its import from German, bier, and thereafter the word began to describe a grain based alcohol of barley or wheat, sometimes brewed with hops and malt.[43]

Further final evidence from an archaeological dig in Gloucester in 2002 suggests that crab apples in addition to their traditional use as a foodstuff was also being pressed into an alcohol sweetened with honey.[44] With the invasion of 1066 the natural sugar in the Norman apples slowly displaced the need for honey as a sweetening agent and so began the love affair between the English and their apples and cider. Increased planting of apple trees began in earnest as soon as the feudal system introduced by William of Normandy could be secured, and continued down over what is becoming close to a thousand years. One of the earliest mentions of a named apple cultivar in English comes from the Plantagenet era near the end of the 12th century, ”Costard”. This apple was an all purpose apple that was occasionally used in cider and remained wildly popular until at least the 19th century: as an illustration, a slang term for the head or brain in the works of Shakespeare is ”costard”,[45] a word a man who spent his life traveling back and forth between his wife in Warwickshire and the theatre in London would have known very well; indeed Shakespeare named one of his clowns after the product in the case of Love's Labour's Lost. In Renaissance England, a ”costermonger” was a seller of apples or wares and remained so right up until the 1960s, long after the apple it was named for went extinct.[46] With the introduction of hops in the earlier reign of Henry VIII, the production of cider declined a bit but through the efforts of His Majesty's fruiterer new plantings of French varieties began in what is now Kent, setting the stage for more cross pollination with varieites already present and the expansion over the reign of Henry's children and great nephew into Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and eastern Wales.[47]

Not all of the apples in the UK have ever been grown solely for dessert purposes, and indeed in British cookery the distinction between cider apples, cooking apples, and dessert apples has remained intact since before the Tudors and spread wherever the British colonized, with some blurring of lines in North America due to necessity and scarcity. In 1676, John Worlidge wrote his Vinetum Brittanicum, a treatise on the production and processing of apples that gives great insight into how little the method has changed in 340 years. Worlidge was writing at a time in which some of the earliest written intact horticulture tracts were being produced in Britain, alongside cookbooks. Both advocate for proper storage of the apples, told which were the correct ones to use for cooking and for drinking, and in the case of Worlidge, advocated the new technique of fermentation in bottles, something that had come into vogue in the 1630s when glass was first strengthened with coke.[47]

Present Day[edit]

In the present day, the United Kingdom drinks the most cider in the world. It is very common to find in on tap in pubs and at the local liquor shop as well as available from smaller labels. UK cider is mostly associated with the West Country, the West Midlands, and portions of the Home Counties, more specifically places like Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Kent, Suffolk, Norfolk and more recently Buckinghamshire and Cheshire; outside of England it is also produced in Wales and Northern Ireland. Cider is available in sweet, medium and dry varieties. Recent years have seen a significant increase in cider sales in the UK.[48] The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) estimates a minimum of 480 active cider makers in the UK.[49] As of 2008, UK cider production comprises 61.9% of cider produced in the EU, and a 7.9% share of UK alcohol servings.[49] There has equally been a marked increase in demand for cider amongst the young: Since 2001, UK supermarket Tesco has increased its cider range by 60%, tripling the its premium cider category to keep up with demand.[50]


There are two broad main traditions in cider production in the UK - the West Country tradition and the eastern Kent and East Anglia tradition. The former are made using a much higher percentage of true cider apples and so are richer in tannins and sharper in flavour. Kent and East Anglia ciders tend to use a higher percentage of, or are exclusively made from, culinary and dessert fruit; Kentish ciders such as Biddenden's, Rough Old Wife and Theobolds are typical of this style. They tend to be clearer, more vinous and lighter in body and flavour.

At one end of the scale are the traditional, small farm-produced varieties. These are non-carbonated and usually cloudy orange in appearance. Britain's West Country contains many of these farms which have an abundance of ancient varieties of specialist cider-apples. Production is often on such a small scale, the product being sold only at the site of manufacture or in local pubs and shops.[51] At the other end of the scale are the factories mass-producing brands such as Strongbow and Blackthorn.

Mass-produced cider, such as that produced by Bulmers, is likely to be pasteurised and force-carbonated. The colour is likely to be golden yellow with a clear appearance from the filtration. White ciders are almost colourless in appearance.


A key market segment exists in the UK for strong white mass-produced cider at 7.5% alcohol by volume. Cider with higher than 7.5% alcohol has a higher rate of excise duty. Typical brands include White Lightning, Diamond White, Frosty Jack, and White Strike.

By volume of alcohol, the excise duty on cider is lower than any other drink. The duty, as of 2011, was £35.87 per 100 litres of cider of up to 7.5% alcohol. 100 litres of table wine or alcopops would attract £241.23 of duty, wine under 5.5% was charged £102.21, £139.28 for 100 litres of 7.5% beer, and £191.40 for the equivalent alcohol volume of spirits.[52]

Before 1996, brands could be labelled at up to 8.4% alcohol when they actually contained 7.4%. This happened because the duty was levied on the actual strength of the alcohol, but Trade Descriptions legislation allowed the label to overstate the alcohol content by up to 1%.[53] White Lightning was then sold in both 7.4% and 8.4% strengths, due to uncertainty about whether consumers would prefer the pricier, stronger drink, or the slightly weaker, cheap one.[54]

Until 2005, the market leading White Lightning brand was being sold on an almost continual 50% extra free promotion, giving 3 litres of 7.5% cider for a typical selling price of £2.99. Scottish Courage, which owned the brand, decided that year to restrict bottle size to 2 litres as part of its responsible drinking strategy. A spokesman for the company spoke of white cider in general, "It is the cheapest way to buy alcohol in the UK. This is pocket money these days. There is no other alcohol category that has the same challenge as white cider. One three litre plastic bottle of white cider contains almost the full recommended weekly alcohol intake for a male drinker" (225 ml, 22.5 units, of pure alcohol content compared with the recommended maximum of 28 units).[55][56] This led to a 70% drop in sales of White Lightning,[57] but increased sales of the brand owner's weaker, more profitable brands. Other manufacturers followed by increasing prices and scrapping their 3-litre bottles.

The price increases on 7.5% cider has increased sales of 5% mass-market cider, which is still widely available in 3 litre bottles in supermarkets.[57]

Since September 2010, HM Revenue and Customs has decreed that to be called cider a drink must contain at least 35% apple or pear juice and must have a pre-fermentation gravity of at least 1033 degrees.[58] The legislation was introduced to stop cheap high alcohol content drinks being called cider, thus taking advantage of the lower duty rates applied to cider.[59]

West of England[edit]
Scrumpy from Somerset

Cloudy, unfiltered ciders made in the West Country are often called "scrumpy", from "scrump",[60] a local dialect term for a small or withered apple. Ciders from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire made from traditional recipes have a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) awarded by the European Union. There are over 25 cider producers in Somerset alone, many of them small family businesses.[14] Historically, farm labourers in Devon, Wiltshire, Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset would receive part of their pay in the form of a substantial daily allowance of cider and local traditions such as the Wassail recall the earlier significance of cider-apple.

Large producers in the West of England include Thatchers Cider in Sandford, Somerset, Bulmers (the producer of Strongbow) in Hereford, as well as Brothers Cider and Gaymer Cider Company, both of which are based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. There is also Weston's Cider in Much Marcle, Herefordshire. Additionally Hogans Cider in Alcester, Warwickshire produces cider from apples and pears From Gloucestershire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire. Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm is renowned for its Rattlers branded cider, produced in Truro, Cornwall. Based in Devon, Luscombe Organic Drinks produces sulphite-free Organic Devon Cider from local organic apples such as Sugar Bush, Quench, Devon Crimson and Pig's Snout.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, a condition known as Devon colic, a form of lead poisoning, was associated with the consumption of cider, vanishing after a campaign to remove lead components from cider presses in the early 19th century. The lead poisoning was also prevalent in Herefordshire as lead salts were added to the cider as a sweetener, being much cheaper than sugar.

Central Southern England[edit]

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of smaller cider producers, many of which are making traditional ciders in areas which have not previously been recognised as cider producing areas. Buckinghamshire for example has seen three producers of real cider emerge in the past five years, two of these (Virtual Orchard and Woughton Orchard) being based in the new city of Milton Keynes. The Radnage Cider Company is based further south in the county. Virtual Orchard was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal Champion Cider of Britain in 2011 by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).


Cider is called "seidr" in Welsh.

Smallhold production of cider made on farms as a beverage for labourers died out in Wales during the 20th century. Cider and perry production in Wales began a dramatic revival in the early 2000s, with many small firms entering production throughout the country. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has actively encouraged this trend, and Welsh ciders and perries have won many awards at CAMRA festivals; meanwhile, the establishment of groups such as UKCider and the Welsh Perry & Cider Society have spurred communication among producers.

Welsh varieties of apples and pears are often distinct from those grown in England, giving cider from Wales a flavour noticeably different from ciders from nearby regions.

Channel Islands[edit]

The Channel Islands once had a strong cider-making tradition likely largely due to the cultural and linguistic ties it had with the Normandy region of France. Cider had been produced in the area since the Middle Ages, but production really took of in 16th century when commercial opportunities offered by cider exports spurred the transformation of feudal open-field agriculture to enclosure. By 1673, apple growing became so popular that the States of Jersey had to introduce legislation to keep farmers from growing them: the King forbade the Channel Islands from planting any more unless they had an orchard already extant because he was losing money on the tithes he normally collected.[61] Late 18th and early 19th century accounts suggest the island of Jersey was breeding its own indigenous apples for cider making, apples with names like Noir Binet, Petit Jean, Limon, Pepin Jacob, Carré, Bretagne and de France and the islands's proximity to Brittany and Normandy encouraged the migration of seasonal workers just to pick them all, and cider was often part of their payment.

Until the 19th century, it was the largest agricultural export with up to a quarter of the agricultural land given over to orchards. In 1839, for example, 268,199 imperial gallons (1,219,260 L) of cider were exported from Jersey to England alone,[62] and almost 500,000 imperial gallons (2,300,000 L) were exported from Guernsey 1834–1843,[63] but by 1870 exports from Jersey had slumped to 4,632 imperial gallons (21,060 L).[64]

Beer had replaced cider as a fashionable drink in the main export markets, and even the home markets had switched to beer as the population became more urban. Potatoes overtook cider as the most important crop in Jersey in the 1840s, and in Guernsey glasshouse tomato production grew in importance. Small-scale cider production on farms for domestic consumption, particularly by seasonal workers from Brittany and mainland Normandy, was maintained, but by the mid-20th century production dwindled until only 8 farms were producing cider for their own consumption in 1983.[65]

The number of orchards had been reduced to such a level that the destruction of trees in the Storm of 1987 demonstrated how close the Islands had come to losing many of its traditional cider apple varieties. A concerted effort was made to identify and preserve surviving varieties and new orchards were planted. As part of diversification, farmers have moved into commercial cider production, and the cider tradition is celebrated and marketed as a heritage experience. In Jersey, a strong (above 7%) variety is currently sold in shops and a bouché style is also marketed.[66]

In Guernsey the only commercial producer of cider is The Rocquette Cider Co. which produces a wide range of ciders and is beginning to compete on an international stage.

In Jersey, cider is used in the preparation of black butter (Jèrriais: nièr beurre), a traditional preserve.


Cider is made in Scotland mainly by small producers, such as Thistly Cross and Waulkmill Cider. The apples are sourced in Scotland and the resultant brews are mainly sold near to the place of origin. Thistly Cross produce many fruit flavoured ciders which are now being sold in Scottish Waitrose and Peckham's stores. Waulkmill Cider is made only with apples collected from within Dumfries and Galloway, and is mainly sold at farmers markets and festivals.

Definition of "real" cider[edit]

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) defines "real" cider as a product containing at least 90% fresh apple juice, with no added flavourings or colourings.[67] Their definition prohibits the use of apple and pear concentrates, and prohibits substantial chaptalisation of the juice (adding sugar prior to fermentation) except in years when the level of natural sugar in the fruit is low.[67] They allow the addition of sweetener for taste after fermentation, and allow limited dilution after fermentation.[67] CAMRA states that the practice of adding a substantial amount of sugar at the fermentation stage to produce a high-alcohol (12–14% abv) beverage that is then diluted with water down to 8.5% abv or less does not conform to their definition of real cider.[67]

More leniently, UK law defines cider as containing at least 35% apple or pear juice, which may be from concentrate.[58]

South America[edit]


In Argentina, cider, or sidra is by far the most popular alcoholic carbonated drink during the Christmas and New Year holidays. It has traditionally been considered the choice of the middle and lower classes (along with ananá fizz and pineapple juice), whereas the higher classes would rather go for champagne or local sparkling wines for their Christmas or New Year toast. Popular commercial brands of cider are Real, La Victoria, Del Valle, La Farruca and Rama Caída. It is usually marketed in 0.72 litre glass or plastic bottles. However, there has been lately a campaign by some bottlers to make cider a drink consumed all year round, in any occasion, and not only seasonally. Cider now comes in smaller bottle sizes and commercials show people drinking at any time[68] (and not only toasting with it around a traditional Christmas or New Year table).


Cider has been made in Chile since colonial times. Southern Chile accounts for nearly all Cider production in the country. Chileans make a distinction between "sidra" ("cider"), in fact sparkling cider, and "chicha de manzana" ("apple chicha"), a homemade cider that is considered of less quality.


East Asia[edit]

Cider in Japan and Korea refers to a soft drink similar to Sprite or lemonade. A popular drink in China is called "Apple Vinegar", which is actually cider. Shanxi Province is noted for the "vinegar" produced there.


Non-alcoholic, apple-flavoured carbonated drinks are popular in the country, with local brands suchs as Mehran Bottler's Apple Sidra and Murree Brewery's Big Apple in the market.


A wine bottle.
A beer bottle.
A beer glass
Draught cider

Cider in Japan refers to a soft drink similar to Sprite or lemonade. Cidre is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples.

As 'Cidre', the drink is popular in Japan with brands such as Asahi Nikka cidre and Kirin hard cidre being present. It is sometimes called apple sparkling wine.

Asahi Nikka cidre was awarded the International Cider Challenge silver medal in 2014. Kirin hard cidre is able to be drunk as Draught cider in Izakaya in Tokyo.

Cidre can be used as a marketing term to describe canned or bottled ciders containing a cider widget, or ciders which are cold-filtered rather than pasteurised.

Beer bottles are used for bottling Cidre. Glasses are used for drinking cidre in Izakaya.

Higher quality cider is sold in champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché). Many ciders are sold in corked bottles, but some screw-top bottles exist.


South Africa[edit]

There are two main brands of cider produced in South Africa, Hunters and Savanna Dry. They are produced and distributed through Distell Group Limited. Hunters Gold was first introduced in South Africa in 1988 as an alternative to beer. The Hunters range includes Hunters Dry, Hunters Gold and Hunters Export. Savanna Dry was introduced in 1996 and also comes in a Light Premium variety.

Craft cideries in South Africa are on the increase, namely Windermere real apple cider and Everson's cider both from the Elgin valley. Windermere cider is the oldest cidery in South Africa and produces real apple cider from whole Windermere farm apples. Both are traditional cideries with the cider being oak aged.

Southwest Pacific[edit]


The composition of cider is defined in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and "means the fruit wine prepared from the juice or must of apples and no more than 25% of the juice or must of pears". Cider has been made in Australia since its early settlement. Primarily this production has been for limited local usage, with national commercial distribution and sales dominated by two brands: Mercury Cider and Strongbow. Since early 2005 they been joined in the market by numerous new producers including Three Oaks Cider, Pipsqueak and Tooheys 5 Seeds Cider as well as imported brands like Magners, Weston's, Monteith's, Kopparberg, Rekorderlig and Somersby.

With the growth in interest in cider, the number of local producers has increased. Some cider producers are attempting to use more traditional methods and traditional cider apple varieties. The Southern Highlands of New South Wales are experiencing such a traditionalist revival with brands such as Sunshack Cider made from only local produce. Tasmania, also known as the 'Apple Isle' is having a resurgence of cider making. Spreyton Cider Co is a family owned cider producer in the Mersey Valley region, just south of Devonport. They make a range of hand crafted, premium ciders made from apples grown on orchards owned for 4 generations. Capt.Blighs 'Tasmanian Cider' is one of the newest producers using cider apples from the Huon Valley and Channel area.[citation needed] Huon Cider, made in New Norfolk, Tasmania, from Sturmer Pippin apples, a variety of apple commonly grown in the region since the 1830s. Henry of Harcourt and Bress cider (both from Harcourt, Victoria) are two of the most complex and interesting ciders that are commercially available.[citation needed] Other smaller brands rely on the available culinary (standard eating - supermarket and cooking apples) fruit. From Victoria's Yarra Valley come Coldstream cider, Kelly Brothers cider and Napoleone & Co. The Bridge Road Brewery and Amulet Winery, both in Victoria's Beechworth, have released ciders. South Australia's boutique ciders include Lobo (Adelaide Hills), The Hills Cider (Adelaide Hills), Thorogoods (Burra) and Aussie Cider (Barossa). In Western Australia the number of cider producers has also grown in the southwest region, particularly in areas where wine is also produced with producers in Denmark, Pemberton and Margaret River. In Tasmania there are a number of boutique cider makers including Pagan Cider (Huon Valley), Dickens Cider (Tamar Valley) and Spreyton Cider (Spreyton).

The cider market has grown from late 2008 onwards due to the trend in the UK following the Magners "drink with ice campaign" and to a lesser degree the change in the laws relating to Alcohol Tax on RTDs.[citation needed] Cider had the largest percentage growth in sales of alcohol products in 2009 & 2010.[citation needed]

New Zealand[edit]

In New Zealand, there are many companies which produce and/or distribute cider. Lion produces Isaac's ciders under the Mac's trademark. The range includes three flavours: apple, pear and berry with limited edition ciders that are released seasonally. Their Speight's brand also makes a cider.

The Dominion Breweries brands Monteith's Brewery in Greymouth on the west coast of the South Island makes an apple and a pear cider while their Old Mout Cider, based in Nelson on the South Island, is blending fruit wines with cider to create fruit ciders including boysenberry and feijoa varieties. Rekorderlig Cider (Pear, Wild Berries, Mango and Raspberry, Strawberry and Lime, Apple and Blackcurrant and Apple and spice), and Johnny Arrow Cider are another two brands owned by this company.

There are also a number of boutique cider houses, including McCashins Brewery in Stoke on the South Island specialising in dry style ciders from freshly crushed fruit.

Ciders in New Zealand are regulated in their minimum content of fruit juice and alcohol content (mostly 4 to 5%).

North America[edit]


Much like the United States to the South, settlers from the British Isles had their love of cider, but today it is francophones that are best known as the representatives of Canadian cider.

Frozen apples in Quebec for the making of ice cider

Quebec cider is considered a traditional alcoholic beverage. It is generally sold in 750 ml bottles, has an alcohol content generally between 7% and 13% (with aperitifs ciders having alcohol content up to 20%), and can be served as a substitute for wine. As in the rest of the world, sparkling cider is getting more and more popular in Quebec and thanks to the law cider sold in the province can only be made from 100% pure apple juice.[citation needed] Cider making was, however, forbidden from the early years of the British rule as it was in direct conflict with established British brewers' interests (most notably John Molson). In recent years, a new type called ice cider has been sold. This type of cider is made from apples with a particularly high level of sugar caused by natural frost. Cider is commercially produced in British Columbia (large and small producers), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, usually with a 5-7% alcohol content. It is sold in 341ml, 355ml, 500ml and 750ml glass bottles and two litre plastic bottles, and does not usually have added sugar.


Two types of cider (sidra) are sold in Mexico. One type is a popular apple-flavoured, carbonated soft drink, sold under a number of soft drink brands, such as Sidral Mundet and Manzana Lift (both Coca-Cola FEMSA brands) and Sidral Aga from Group AGA. The other type, alcoholic sidra, is a sparkling cider typically sold in Champagne-style bottles with an alcohol content comparable to beer. Sidra was, due to the expense of imported Champagne, sometimes used as a substitute for New Year's Eve toasts in Mexico, as it is also a sweet, fruity drink. However, now the practice is to drink cider on Christmas Eve, celebrated with the family, and Champagne on New Year's, celebrated with friends. Cider beverages form a very small share of the Mexican alcoholic beverage market, with the figures for 2009 volume sales amounting to only 3.8 million litres.

United States[edit]

In the United States, the definition of "cider" is usually more broad than in Europe, specifically Ireland and the UK. There are two types, one being the traditional definition, called hard cider and the second sweet or soft cider.

A hard cider produced in Michigan

Hard Cider[edit]


The history of cider in the United States is very closely tied to the history of apple growing in this country. Most of the 17th- and 18th-century emigrants to America from the British Isles drank hard cider and its variants: water was not a trusted source of hydration and so beer, ale, fruit brandy, and cider were used as more sanitary substitutes. Apples were one of the earliest known crops in the English-speaking New World: ships' manifests show young saplings being carefully planted in barrels and many hopeful farmers bringing bags of seed with them, with the first settlers headed to what is now the Southeast. Within thirty-five years of the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, the land was put to the plow to grow tobacco which made the colonists wealthy beyond their wildest dreams and British settlement a success in the New World after several failed attempts. However, other edible cash crops were planted, like rice, maize, and apples, since such would have had value on the market of hungry growing cities like London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Cardiff. In 1634 Lord Baltimore instructed settlers of the new colony of Maryland to carry across the sea "kernalls of peares and apples, especially of Pipins, Pearemains, and Deesons for maykinge thereafter of Cider and Perry." [69]

There are records of at least one English apple cultivar used for cider and cooking, Catshead, being grown on Berkeley Hundred Plantation in Virginia around this time; later introductions from the UK would have included Foxwhelp, Redstreak, and the extinct Costard.[70] The first recorded shipment of honeybees to America, important for the pollination of apples, is recorded in 1622 in Virginia.[71] Other records from the Tidewater South show wealthier farmers and plantation owners arranging for the import of French apple varieties, such as Calville Blanc, Pomme d'Api, and Court Pendu Plat, likely in part due to qualities they wanted to improve in the stock available and the difficulty there was in keeping early breed-stock alive: unbeknownst to the colonists leaving for the New World, they faced an uphill battle in planting some of their favourite foods, including apples. Only about 20% of apple trees produced from apple seeds shall grow a fruit comparable to the parent plant, while about 60% will be passable for consumption and the remaining 20% will be "crab apples" unfit for most human tastes.[72] and the records of all the thirteen colonies indicate that the favoured method of propagation from 1607-1737 was not grafting since this method was expensive and the reserve of the wealthy using crabapple rootstock,[73] For everyone else it was more a game of Russian roulette with cuttings and seeds.

On top of that was the situation on the ground in Eastern North America, namely the business of diseases, pests, and temperature. Normally tent caterpillars parasitise Southern crab apple trees, black cherry trees, chokecherries, and the sweet crabapple, members of the Rosaceae family native to the Eastern United States. They made no distinction between these and the European derived young apple, cherry, quince, and pear trees the colonists had, which had evolved no defence mechanism against moth larvae that would form huge silk bags on the branches and destroy the tree by eating all the leaves. Fungi like cedar-apple rust destroyed trees' abilities to produce fruit, since it infects the buds they grow, making them sterile, and in the case of the British apples proved disastrous since unlike native Malus species it would not fight back and eventually die, covered in cankers.

In 17th century Britain, orchards had been kept in a relatively open area for generations as most of the forest had been already cleared, but in America leaving the trees without a surrounding fence in the open resulted in attracting nearby populations of black bears, skunks, raccoons, elk, and deer looking to fatten up for winter. The climate of the American Southeast also had more extremes, where temperatures would easily exceed 26 °C in summer but fall below 3 °C in winter: most of the cider, cooking, and dessert apples brought from the oceanic climate of Northwest Europe were not bred for sweltering humidity or late season frosts. In the South, despite the longer growing season, it was a herculean fight just to get apples and pears to live long enough to bear fruit let alone make cider or perry, and whatever cider they did drink likely was eye wateringly sour and of inferior quality.

Meanwhile, approximately 985 km up the coast in New England, John Winthrop, governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632, recorded his tenants paying their rent on Governor's Island in two bushels of apples a year.[74] The earliest known provision for cidermaking is believed to have been carried on the Mayflower itself in 1620. Halfway through the journey, the ship was caught in a storm and one of its beams cracked badly enough to warrant the consideration of turning back to England. "The great iron screw", taken from a cider press, helped brace the beam to keep the ship from breaking up and did it long enough to make it to the New World,.[75] Nine days after the Puritans landed (and perhaps in great thanks for having survived the journey at all) a man by the name of William Blackstone planted the first apple trees in the New England colonies.[76]

The earliest known full blown successful orchard in America began in Massachusetts Bay Colony near what is today modern Boston.[77] New England was more successful in producing the first viable apples as evidenced by the fact that the oldest known and named apple varieties come from Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, and Providence Plantation: Roxbury Russet in 1634, Hightop Sweet by 1630, and Rhode Island Greening in 1650, all of which still survive and are used for used still for cidermaking and baking of pies. John Endicott, another New Englander, began one of the first known nurseries for apples and pears, and in 1648 he is recorded as selling 500 young trees to a William Trask, for which he received 250 acres of land; approximately 20 years earlier it is believed that he planted a garden full of fruits selected for alcohol production, near what is present day Salem, Massachusetts of which one example pear tree still survives as evidence. Later as his trees matured he began to sell them to new settlers and their bounty of cider and perry to local taverns, beginning one of the earliest examples of large scale propagation in the New World of apples and cider. By the 1660s regulations on the consumption and distribution[78] of alcohol were being put into place, and fines were being levied for drunkenness on hard cider in Massachusetts Bay Colony, in Maryland, and Virginia among other places, going by the court records. In 1676, Nicholas Spencer, secretary of the Virginia House of Burgesses, speculated on the cause of the riots of the past two years, as keeping the law proved difficult: "All plantations flowing with syder, soe unripe drank by our licentious inhabitants, that they allow no tyme for its fermentation but in their braines."[79]

This tree has not stopped fruiting since it was planted by John Endicott in the 1630s and is now 385 years old. It is the town's most prized possession and local law stipulates that it must remain undisturbed. The Endicott family was a very prominent one that played a role in dispersing cider and perry apples right through the nineteenth century[80] & the USDA has taken cuttings to examine it for its remarkable longevity and possibly plant its clones so the DNA may live on after the tree dies; the cultivar itself is quite rare.

As time passed, English settlers began coming from different regions, which ones depending on which colony they chose to settle in, but most of them came from areas with long established traditions of apple growing, including the West Midlands, the West Country (largely these two settled in the South), the Channel Islands (in New Jersey), the Home Counties (New York), and East Anglia (New England). Other settlers came from Sweden, the Highlands of Scotland},[81] Wales, the Netherlands,[82] Western France, the Irish province of Ulster, and (by the end of the 17th century) Southwest Germany and parts of Switzerland, with all of the above settling down on farms and requiring apples that would keep well, could be bartered as payment. In 1682, Governor Carteret of New Jersey wrote, "At Newark is made great quantities of syder, exseeding any that wee have in New England, Rhode Island, or Long Island", significant because colonial New Jersey had a colourful mix of British, Swedish, Dutch, and French Huguenots; a thousand hogsheads were filled that year in Newark, or 238, 481 litres in modern measurement.[83] Even those settlers, such as Germans and Dutch, who did not come from cultures that attached value to alcohol made from apples found that they could sell more of their crop by breeding apples that their neighbours would have wanted. They thus started a trend and bred versatile apples that would go well with a joint of pork, could be peeled and baked in a pie or rendered into apple butter, but also had enough juice to ferment into alcohol[84] and could be pressed into cider come autumn harvest.[85][85] The result was a rather motley and bizarre foundation stock from all over Northern Europe, and American apples, many of them chance seedlings, grew into varieties like the Harrison Cider Apple, Rambo, Black Gilliflower, Newtown Pippin, Green Cheese, and Baldwin. Many of these older apples are still used in cookery and in cider making even in the present day.[86][87]

Eagle Vineyard, Baronet Apple Wine. Label from California Historical Society.

By the 18th century apple cider was a staple at every family table; at harvest many apples were pressed into cider and the remainder was placed carefully into barrels to store through winter for eating or replenishing supply. Pehr Kalm, a Swedish naturalist, noted in his travels in 1749 that nearly every home on Staten Island (now a part of modern New York City) had a small orchard attached and in the colonial capital, Albany, apples were being pressed for cider to be exported south to New York City [88] By 1775, one in ten New England families, most of them farmers, had a cider mill on the property.[83] In one of his letters to his wife Abigail, John Adams complained explicitly about the quality of Philadelphia alcohols and being homesick for her cider.[89][90] Thomas Jefferson grew several varieties of apple at his home in Virginia and there are records of his wife Martha Jefferson overseeing their harvest and brewing while she was mistress of the plantation.[91] Ciderkin, a slightly alcoholic beverage made from cider pomace, could also be found on colonial tables, and was often served for breakfast. Applejack, made in the North, was made in a very similar manner to Canadian ice cider every winter and likely would have been familiar to Mrs. Adams as an alternate means to concentrate alcohol when it was far too cold outside to bring out the cider press.[92] The taste for hard cider continued into the 19th century in pockets of the East Coast, but with the double blow of immigration from Central and Eastern Europe, where lager beer is the traditional staple, and the later advent of Prohibition hard cider manufacturing collapsed and did not recover after the ban on alcohol was lifted. Temperance fanatics burned or uprooted the orchards and wrought havoc on farms to the point that only dessert or cooking apples escaped the axe or torch.[93]

Present day[edit]

It is only in recent years that interest has been completely revived in hard cider.[94] Surviving heirloom varieties that would have had a role in the old orchards have been carefully catalogued and others have been put up for sale at city farmer's markets, as well as sold by the bushel to businesses wanting to make their own labels.[95] On the East Coast many have been taking cuttings of trees planted a hundred years ago and blending them experimentally into new brews, with California and the Great Lakes States following suit.[96][97] Business is currently booming, even outselling the craft beer movement and though it is currently only one percent of the alcoholic beverage market it has skyrocketed and is projected to keep growing. Larger beer brewing companies, whose profits have been suffering for years due to the loss of market share to craft brews and the change in public opinion as to the quality of their product,[98] have bought cider making companies : Boston Beer Company, a pioneer of the craft beer movement and the brewers of the nationally popular Sam Adams, has bought Angry Orchard in 2013 and the same company that brews Bulmers in Ireland reaped a handsome sum in the purchase of Woodchuck Hard Cider, in 2012. As of summer 2014 hard cider's growth in popularity has been such that for the very first time a commercial for a nationwide brand has debuted on YouTube and television, for Johnny Appleseed Ciders, a new label launched by Anheuser-Busch.[99]

There is great diversity of taste in the types of hard cider available, made by small local producers all the way up to the big beer conglomerates, and great variation from region to region. Because the US allows brewing for personal use, instructions for making homebrew are readily available on the internet.[100] According to a July 2014 article from a Chicago area newspaper, the city is taking advantage of its proximity to an area in Michigan that has national importance as a major apple growing region. A whole bar dedicated solely to new ciders in the city is up and running and consequentially Great Lakes producers are pressing more and more of the drink: in its first year, Michigan-based Virtue Cider pressed about 20,000 gallons of cider, or 75,708 litres, selling it in Chicago and other markets. In 2013, it pressed about 120,000 gallons (454,249 litres), and for the year 2014 it expects to press more than 200,000 US gallons, or 757,082 litres.[101]

New England Hard Cider[edit]

The early 20th century was difficult for the New England region in terms of alcohol production: first, in 1918 the Northeast suffered a particularly brutal winter that lead to an apple shortage.[102] Prohibition and the Volstead Act destroyed most of the cider trees. As the after effects of the 18th Amendment wore on, Boston and the coastline of Massachusetts became nationally important as places where contraband alcohol from Eastern Canada and the Caribbean could be smuggled in by boat. Unfortunately, because Boston and the small fishing villages that dot the New England coastline were a gateway from whence the rest of the nation clandestinely got its wine, whiskey, gin, rum, and beer, it was much more lucrative to smuggle contraband alcohol than saving a local rural drink from extinction. Finally, the Great Depression hit and financial difficulties made a lot of the old timers abandon their orchards: the 1985 John Irving book The Cider House Rules correctly shows that much production of the surviving orchards had switched over to sweet cider by the 1940s, when the novel takes place.

However the last quarter of the 20th century proved this region had ample potential for revival: records of how cider was once made were left untouched. The equipment for creating its sweeter, non-alcoholic cousin could easily be switched for hard cider and many of the old presses were still usable. The wine revolution in California had taken off and often beaten European varietals in taste tests, an important step proving the United States could make quality alcohol other than whisky and opening the floodgates to better quality, more modern machinery and tools in greater volume: some of this equipment can also be used in cidermaking, and in New England thus it became possible to order it by catalogue, by asking for the surplus from California winemakers, and by the early 1990s, by internet. Heirloom varieties still survived in more remote areas of the region, sometimes hidden on abandoned farm land, and there was contact with other countries that produced alcohol derived from apples such as Canada and Ireland, the latter country exporting it for the Irish expat community in Boston and thr large Irish American population in the Northeast.[103]

Thus it was in this region that the earliest attempts for national revival of hard cider took place in the mid 1980s.[104] By the early 1990s cidermaking was up and running to the point that the first cider festival took place, and as of August 2014 the region boasts more than 44 different cideries, with eighteen of them in Massachusetts alone.[105] Notable in this region is the production of several different types of cider. Farmhouse cider generally designates a simple sweet alcoholic cider, while barrel aged ciders tend to be aged for a few years in red oak barrels creating a much sharper flavour. Typical production methods do not use the horse and masher system of France or Europe but often are partially mechanical. Ice cider is also a product of this region, relished by Canadian French speakers in the northern parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. These producers have learned it from their neighbours and relatives over the border, but now ship their product to twenty different states and with new producers in portions of Massachusetts and New York. Overall this region of the U.S gets much colder than Western Europe with temperatures getting well below 0 °C by the second week of December, but the conditions are ideal for natural freeze distillation.[106] Experimental varietals using ingredients like ginger and spice are also bottled, as is a variety consistent with the original brewing method native to the region in which, after an initial fermentation, sugar and raisins is added to the brew and the liquid is again fermented, boosting the alcoholic content up to 13%.[107]

New York Hard Cider[edit]

New York City sits at the southern tip of the second most productive area for apple production in the country, the Hudson Valley. It also happens to be in a state noted for having a long and extremely productive history in agriculture: it produces more than enough to feed itself and large swathes of the Northeastern USA's large population. New York City shops, in addition to stocking the typical Californian wines and the finest France, Spain, and Italy have to offer, also sell and promote locally produced vintages, since New York State is devoted to many award winning wines, often right behind the more famous California and Washington with Rieslings and Cabernets.[108]

Naturally, the cider revolution has not left America's largest city indifferent, as the business is proving to be quite lucrative: as of 2013, sales are up 70 percent.[109] New York City also gets many of New England's best brews shipped by truck every week on top of what it gets natively and is becoming a major distribution center for the product. Hard cider has become a very popular drink amongst restaurant and bar patrons in their 20s and 30s, and it is quite common straight up as an alternative to beer for a simple meal or more recently behind the bar as the darling of mixologists for cocktails.[110] There is a festival called Cider Week that takes place after the harvest in New York State is complete, with the first leg of it taking place a few days before Halloween until All Soul's Day in New York City, and then again from mid-November until just before Thanksgiving in the rest of the Hudson Valley. The event has attracted some big name sponsors, such as Whole Foods and locavore organizations.[111] An October 29, 2013 article of the Village Voice has dubbed the phenomenon as "Applepalooza", and describes VIP taste tests with cheese and a whole plethora of different styles, from foreign French and Spanish types to local, more experimental blends.[112] Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, the oldest producer of Applejack in the land has miraculously been handed down through ten generations and is occasionally found in a New York bartender's arsenal, fueled by a renewed interest in older style cocktails.[113]

As of 2013 there are more than 20 producers in the state of New York, with many more expected to be founded in the years to come. Apple producers in New York are very happy with the increasing demand as it solves a common problem where a crop of apples may be plentiful but have some blemished specimens that supermarkets will not take; on top of that smaller producers may be freed to use older varieties that russet or cosmetically are ugly, but well suited to being juiced or baked.[114]Andrew Cuomo, the governor, and Senator Charles Schumer are re-evaluating how the local product is taxed to make it more competitive nationally.[115] In New York City itself, a new brewery for hard cider is fully operational and thriving, specializing in artisanal brews. It has named itself Original Sin, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the story in Genesis where Eve bites the apple. It nods to its local heritage by basing one of its products on an apple cultivar that was born in one of the five boroughs that make up New York City in the 18th century, what is today Queens: Newtown Pippin.[116]

California Hard Cider[edit]

California is world famous for wine, but a trade magazine lists 28 hard cider producers scattered over the San Joaquin Valley and the Napa region.[117] Among California’s most prominent cider producers are Ace Cider, Red Branch, Devoto Orchards, Sonoma Cider, Crispin, and Tilted Shed Ciderworks. During WWII, well before the great wine revolution of the late 1970s, California often produced the bulk of apples for consumption by troops using just one cultivar: Gravenstein, brought to California by Russian settlers in the 19th century, and prior to Prohibition this apple sometimes was used in cidermaking.[118] Unfortunately much of its production was centered around Sonoma and the trees were cut down to make way for vineyards.[119] Fortunately a few survived and cideries in California have been processing them into cider and importing other more bitter ones from France and England to make refined tasting cider sold by the bottle, similar to but not exclusively French style cidre. Much like their wine growing neighbours they do offer tours and taste tests, as well as ship their product to San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.[120]

Sweet or Soft Cider[edit]

In current U.S. usage, one must specify if the cider one wants should be hard or regular, for what he or she receives may be completely devoid of alcohol. Sweet cider typically is the direct result of pressed apples; according to the regulations of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apple cider is legally defined as an "amber golden, opaque, unfermented, entirely nonalcoholic juice squeezed from apples".[121] This is distinct from apple juice, which has a much sweeter taste, is typically heavily filtered, and may or may not be from concentrate.[122] Both products are pasteurized for safety's sake and otherwise are unacceptable for consumption or large scale sale otherwise. Sweet cider is typically drunk in the US as the weather gets colder and in the East it is often served hot and mulled with spices; it is a feature of end of year holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Sparkling cider, such as that made by a company in California called Martinelli's, is the result of Prohibition Era crackdowns on alcohol and is a carbonated type of juice. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is a favourite drink, served chilled.

Due to tax legislation in the US,[7] a cider becomes classified as a fruit wine when sugar or extra fruit is added and a secondary fermentation increases the strength.[8]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Farmhouse Cider & Scrumpy, Bob Bunker 1999
  • Household Cyclopedia, 1881
  • The History and Virtues of Cyder, R. K. French (Robert Hale 1982 - reprinted 2010)

External links[edit]